Carlos Guillen Heads To Lakeland
By Chris Hannum
Now this might complicate things a bit (or wind up being completely irrelevant): Carlos Guillen begins his rehab assignment in Lakeland tomorrow. There are, of course, plenty of questions: starting with ‘for how long?’ and ending with ‘does he even have anything left?’. And I’d say it will take a week in Florida, at the least, to get any sense of the answers.
IF, and that’s obviously a huge ‘if’, Guillen is healthy enough to play baseball as opposed to merely healthy enough to wear a uniform at some point this summer then Guillen could provide a needed boost for this Tigers team. That’s not because Guillen is a great hitter – which he was 5 years ago when he looked more like an athlete and less like an average 35-year old man. That’s because Guillen can conveniently play the two positions (2nd & 3rd, if you’ve been living under a rock) Detroit needs help at most.
Guillen may not have a lot of fans left in Detroit at this point, though I’m not sure that’s really fair. Mainly it’s that folks expected a lot more from Guillen as of 2008 than they’ve seen up to now (not least Dave Dombrowski). His injury history was, after all, the reason the Mariners were willing to set his price as low as one Ramon Santiago. The physical decline (is ‘decline’ the right word for added bulk and reduced agility?) that left him unable to play effective short could have been foreseen as well. The contract, in retrospect, was obviously money ill spent. All of that is no reason to despise Guillen, or to discount the possibility that he could still provide something of value in the last year of his Tigers tenure.
Guillen hasn’t been himself at the plate since his injury midsummer 2008, but over the past two years he has put together roughly one full season – 597 plate appearances. Despite being old and banged up (and upon his return, he would certainly continue to be old and banged up in 2011) Guillen has put up a .752 OPS with 17 home runs and 75 RBI. That’s at least better than Brandon Inge over the past two years, not to mention the mono-infected Inge of 2011. It’s also better than the current slumping Raburn (or the ZiPS projection for the remainder of Raburn’s season) and far better than we could ever expect from defense-only reserves like Don Kelly (.642 career OPS) and Ramon Santiago (.655 career OPS).
Make your own conclusions as to how likely any contribution is to actually occur. I have no idea how Guillen will fare in Lakeland, it’s been a long time since he actually played in a game anywhere. He could easily have some minor setback that keeps him out all year, wouldn’t surprise anyone. Personally, I’ll be waiting and watching with cautious and/or guarded optimism… and a little hope… and frankly pulling for a guy that I’ve been a fan of since before he put on the Olde English D.